Sunday, May 10, 2009
Day 100: Escape From New York (1981) - Rank 3.5/5
Donald Pleasence as the president of the United States? Yes, please. From the moment I saw this in the film's open, I was sold on the John Carpenter classic. Somehow, over the years, the film evaded me. The cast is fully stocked with the Carpenter regulars (Harry Dean Stanton, Kurt Russell, Adrienne Barbeau, etc.). Kurt Russell plays the humorously named "Snake Plisskin" and is forcefully recruited to save the president after he takes the escape pod from Air Force One and lands in the giant prison that once was Manhattan.
With me, John Carpenter films always hit, at least to a certain degree. "They Live," "Halloween," "Big Trouble in Little China" and "The Thing" I find superb films, whereas "Assault on Precinct 13," "The Fog," and "Christine" I regard as good, but not great. "Escape from New York" falls into that category for me, and the issue is (as with the others) pacing. It's not that the film ever feels slow, but it just never picks up speed either. The finales seemed rather anticlimactic, for "The Duke" (Isaac Hayes) was easily eliminated, despite the fact that he had an army of prisoners on his side. And though Kurt Russell was clearly having fun, I think his personality rubs off more on some of Carpenter's later projects, keeping the film moving and fresh where the script or pace may lag. It was their first collaboration though, so I won't be too harsh. Simply summed up: it's a fun film. Nothing more. Though I was left with a perplexing question after finishing the movie: How did Pleasence become president when he's British? Oh, that's right. He's not the president..."He's the Duke! He's the Duke!"
Watch the Trailer